Jackson v. City of Modesto, 1:21-CV-0415 AWI EPG

CourtUnited States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
PartiesESTATE OF KIM JACKSON, et al., Plaintiffs v. CITY OF MODESTO, et al., Defendants
Docket Number1:21-CV-0415 AWI EPG
Decision Date14 October 2021

ESTATE OF KIM JACKSON, et al., Plaintiffs

CITY OF MODESTO, et al., Defendants

No. 1:21-CV-0415 AWI EPG

United States District Court, E.D. California

October 14, 2021


This case stems from a fatal encounter between decedent Kim Jackson (“Jackson”) and members of the Modesto Police Department (“MPD”). Plaintiffs, who are Jackson's Estate (“the Estate”) and family, bring claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (for violations of the First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments based on excessive force, interference with familial relationships, and Monell liability), 29 U.S.C § 779 (the Rehabilitation Act (“RA”)), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. (Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“the ADA”)), as well as state law claims for violations of the California Constitution, Cal. Civ. Code § 52.1 (the Bane Act), assault/battery, negligence, and Cal. Code Civ. P. § 377.60 (wrongful death). Currently before the Court are two Rule 12(b)(6) motions to dismiss filed by Defendants, one by Officer Joseph Lamantia (“Lamantia”) and one by the City of Modesto (“the City”), the MPD, [1] Police Chief Galen Carroll (“Chief Carroll”), Officer Alex Bettis (“Bettis”), and Officer Michael Callahan (“Callahan”).[2] For the reasons that follow, the motions will be granted in part and denied in part.



Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a claim may be dismissed because of the plaintiff's “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). In reviewing a complaint under Rule 12(b)(6), all well-pleaded allegations of material fact are taken as true and construed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Kwan v. San Medica, Int'l, 854 F.3d 1088, 1096 (9th Cir. 2017). However, complaints that offer no more than “labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009); Johnson v. Federal Home Loan Mortg. Corp., 793 F.3d 1005, 1008 (9th Cir. 2015). The Court is “not required to accept as true allegations that contradict exhibits attached to the Complaint or matters properly subject to judicial notice, or allegations that are merely conclusory, unwarranted deductions of fact, or unreasonable inferences.” Seven Arts Filmed Entm't, Ltd. v. Content Media Corp. PLC, 733 F.3d 1251, 1254 (9th Cir. 2013). To avoid a Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Mollett, 795 F.3d at 1065. “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Somers v. Apple, Inc., 729 F.3d 953, 959 (9th Cir. 2013). “Plausibility” means “more than a sheer possibility, ” but less than a probability, and facts that are “merely consistent” with liability fall short of “plausibility.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Somers, 729 F.3d at 960. If a motion to dismiss is granted, “[the] district court should grant leave to amend even if no request to amend the pleading was made . . . .” Ebner v. Fresh, Inc., 838 F.3d 958, 962 (9th Cir. 2016). However, leave to amend need not be granted if amendment would be futile or the plaintiff has failed to cure deficiencies despite repeated opportunities. Garmon, 828 F.3d at 842.


From the Complaint, in October 2016, Jackson was 52 years old and suffered from mental health and substance abuse issues that substantially limited her ability to care for herself,


concentrate, think, and communicate. She had an extensive record of law enforcement contacts with the MPD under Cal. Wel. & Inst. Code § 5150.

On October 8, 2016, at 1:48 a.m. Glenn Jackson (“Glenn”), Jackson's father, called 911 from his home to report that Jackson was intoxicated and vandalizing his residence, but that no weapons were involved.

At 2:04 a.m., Defendant Callahan and another police officer arrived and spoke with Glenn. Jackson was no longer present, but Glenn explained that Jackson had been drinking and had threatened suicide. Glenn also explained that he did not want Jackson arrested, he just wanted her to leave the residence. Callahan closed the case about thirty minutes later and left the residence.

At 3:04 a.m., Glenn called 911 and reported that Jackson had returned to his home and was armed with a knife.

At 3:09 a.m., Callahan and Defendants Bettis and Lamantia arrived at Glenn's home. Bettis observed Jackson in the driveway and that she appeared to be agitated and screaming. The officers discussed that they had been to the residence on prior occasions relating to Jackson, and Callahan explained that he intended to take Jackson into custody through a Cal. Wel. & Inst. Code § 5150 (“§ 5150”) mental health hold. However, the officers did not develop a “game plan” about how to approach or detain Jackson or reasonably accommodate Jackson's “present disabilities.” Callahan armed himself with a Taser, Lamantia armed himself with a pistol, and Bettis armed himself with a shotgun. Bettis's shotgun had been loaded with a breaching round, a special type of ammunition used to penetrate door locks but not meant to be used against people.

The officers walked toward the residence with their weapons unholstered and displayed. This show of force by the officers exacerbated Jackson's mental illness and exacerbated her fear and anxiety that the officers intended to harm her. Jackson approached the officers in the street, and she had multi-colored kitchen knives in her hands. The officers “triangulated” Jackson's position, which exacerbated Jackson's mental illness and increased her fear and anxiety. Jackson then walked toward Lamantia.

Lamantia and Callahan then discharged their weapons. Lamantia's bullet struck Jackson in the chest from a distance of 11 or 12 feet, while Callahan's taser probe struck Jackson's left wrist


from a distance of 17 feet. Jackson then dropped all of the knives that she had in her hand. Jackson turned away from the officers and began to stagger away. Jackson posed no threat to the officers or to anyone else after she turned and began staggering away.

While Jackson was staggering away from the officers, Bettis discharged his shotgun twice from a distance of 22 feet. One of the rounds may have been a less-lethal “bean bag” round, but the other round discharged was a breaching round. The breaching round penetrated Jackson's rib, left kidney, left adrenal, aorta, intestines, and stomach before finally lodging into her liver.

Lamantia also fired a second bullet at Jackson as she was staggering away. The bullet grazed Jackson's right forearm from a distance of 17 feet. Bettis and Lamantia both discharged their second rounds at the same time.

Jackson then collapsed on the ground. She was transported to a hospital where she was pronounced dead.

That night, Bettis informed City police personnel that he had “fucked up” because he believed that he had previously loaded his shotgun with less-lethal bean bag rounds prior to shooting Jackson, but the shotgun was also loaded with a lethal breaching round. Bettis also stated that he was “out of position” when the officers confronted Jackson.

The officers were all wearing bodycams which were activated prior to the shooting of Jackson. The video from Lamantia's bodycam demonstrates Jackson's positioning during the officer involved shooting.

On October 10, 2016, the officers were interviewed regarding the shooting of Jackson. Also on October 10, 2016, the City issued a public “news release” that described the shooting of Jackson as follows:

Officers arrived and as they were walking up to the home, Jackson confronted them in the street, armed with multiple knives. As officers were giving verbal commands for her to drop the knives, she advanced rapidly at them with knives raised above her head. Officers utilized a taser, bean bags, and one officer used his duty weapon. She was rushed to a local hospital where she succumbed to her injuries.

News reports from the Modesto Bee newspaper and the KCRA television station conveyed substantially similar information. Both news outlets indicated that police were summoned by


Jackson's parents, police went to the house twice because Jackson was gone the first time, Jackson was armed with knives, Jackson confronted the officers, the officers told Jackson to stop or drop the knives, but Jackson advanced quickly or ran towards the officers, and the officers used a taser, bean bags, and a firearm. See Doc. No. 16-2.[3]

In April 2017, the MPD convened a “shooting review board” for the purposes of evaluating the shooting of Jackson. The board consisted of Chief Carroll, Assistant Police Chief Armendariz, and three Captains. The board unanimously concluded that the shooting was justified and within policy.

The City and Chief Carroll did not make the bodycam footage available to Jackson's family or the public. Jackson's family relied on the City's October 10 press release, as well as a July 2018 press release from the Stanislaus County District Attorney, to conclude that the officer involved shooting was justified and that there was no legal basis to pursue legal action regarding Jackson's death. Plaintiffs allege that they had no reason to know that the officer-involved shooting was not justified or that improper tactics and ammunition were utilized. Upon information and belief, the City, Carroll, Bettis, Callahan, and Lamantia actively and intentionally concealed critical details of the officer-involved shooting which would have demonstrated that the shooting was unreasonable. Specifically, the following information was never publicly revealed: (1) Bettis shot Jackson in the back...

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